Work trucks fill the parking lot near the Oxford Street pump station Wednesday. (Garry Wolgemuth photo)

Sewage leak on Marine Drive in White Rock

Overnight repairs include trucking waste to another connection to Annacis Island

A sewage leak at White Rock’s Oxford Street pump station prompted late-night emergency repairs this week.

The problem arose Monday night, prompting closure of the public washrooms and work that continued through Thursday morning.

Fire Chief Phil Lemire said the leak – affecting Metro Vancouver’s infrastructure and reported just before 9 p.m. Monday – spilled grey water onto Marine Drive.

Crews blocked vehicle and pedestrian access to the area until it could be contained, he said.

“They basically got some barricades and sandbags out there,” Lemire told Peace Arch News Thursday morning.

He described the volume of flow from the leak as “not as big as the one this past winter.” That one occurred in December or January, when extreme cold caused a pipe to break.

Metro Vancouver’s division manager of sewer collections, Lorn Carter, said the latest leak was due to a crack in a force main, likely caused by settlement. He noted the main was installed in the ’70s.

The crack resulted in “minor above-ground flow,” and a need for “significant bypass work and co-ordination” to effect repairs.

Testing Tuesday determined there was no impact to the marine environment, Carter said.

White Rock resident Wilma Boyd said she came across the response effort around 9:45 p.m. Monday, on her way home from the evening’s council meeting. A fire truck was blocking Marine Drive’s westbound lane, she said.

“I pulled around him noticing there was a lot of what looked like water on the road,” she told PAN by email. “Firefighters were standing around talking to one another and I could see the fluid coming from the building next to the washrooms at the base of Oxford.

“It was all running straight into the storm sewer.”

She said crews told her Wednesday that they were connecting the sewage line to external tubes to redirect the sewage into “massive” holding tanks set up in the parking lot.

From the holding tanks, it would be fed into pump trucks, which would then transport it further up Marine Drive to a connection point that feeds underground directly to Annacis Island.

She was told the leak was caused by a coupling failure, and that it could lead to “serious trouble” if not resolved.

“They have no idea how this happened since the system looks fairly recent and they has not really been encountered before,” Boyd said.

Lemire said Metro Vancouver “definitely did their cleanup,” including of area catch basins. He and Carter said residential properties were not impacted.

Carter thanked residents and visitors for their patience during repairs.

City of White Rock officials posted a notice to the city’s website Tuesday advising that “unexpected repairs” would close the Oxford washrooms for approximately two hours that evening. Wednesday afternoon, they sent out an update via social media, noting repairs “could go on through the night.”

Contacted Thursday, communcations manager Farnaz Farrokhi told PAN the washrooms reopened around 10 a.m.

Resident Garry Wolgemuth filmed crews late Wednesday evening: